Water a focus in appeal of county’s approval of Veyo RV park project

Veyo resident Dean Holliday, who represented himself during the appeal hearing, argued the proposed Veyo RV park violated county code and the decision by the county planning commission to approve a conditional use project for the project should be overturned, St. George, Utah, April 15, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The future of a proposed RV park in Veyo is in the hands of the Washington County Commission after nearly 60 people from the Veyo-Brookside area appealed the project’s approval by the county planning commission Monday.

Slade Hughes, of Veyo, watching on as a conditional use permit granted by the Washington County Planning Commission for a proposed RV park he’s hoping to develop in Veyo is challenged in an appeal hearing before the Washington County Commission, St. George, Utah, April 15, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The Washington County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the proposed RV Park in the area of 800 North and Cottom Ranch Road in Veyo in March. At the time, several Veyo and Brookside residents opposed to the project attended the meeting in hopes of seeing it stalled.

The RV park, proposed by Pine Valley Mountain Recreation LLC and Veyo resident Slade Hughes, would put over 120 RV pads across a 20 acre area. A handful of tent sites and cabins are also slated for the project as it develops.

Arguments against the project ranged from claims it violated county ordinances to water supply issues and conflicts of interest. Hughes is a member of the county planning commission and a principal employee of the Veyo Culinary Water Association.

Hughes subsequently recused himself from the discussion and voting on the project during the March 12 meeting.

Concerns from the March planning commission meeting were revisited Monday as two people — one a Veyo resident neighboring the project, and the other an attorney representing a collective of Veyo and Brookside residents – presented their appeals to the County Commission.

Resident Dean Holliday argued that the planning commission approved the project based on an incomplete set of site plans. The plans also kept changing he said, so he doesn’t know what to expect next door to his property.

Attorney Ron Hill argues against the proposed RV park as he claims it violate county code and will aggravate water issues in the Veyo-Brookside area. He represented nearly 60 Brookside-Veyo residents who oppose the RV park’s creation in Veyo, St. George, Utah, April 15, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Holliday also wondered if there was going to be any sort of buffer between his property and the people who would be staying at the RV park.

“What’s going to buffer me from this trailer park?” he said. “This is a lot of people in one place.”

Attorney Ron Hill, who represented a list of 58 Veyo-Brookside residents, also argued that the RV park site plans presented to the planning commission were incomplete, as they did not feature a full list of items county code requires for submission and consideration.

He also argued that the zoning for the land Hughes wanted to put the RV park was currently zoned for agriculture use and not commercial, which would be a better fit for an RV park.

Such a project also doesn’t fit the general plan for the Veyo-Brookside area, Hill said.

He then mentioned the water issue.

Water for the RV park — an amount that had not yet been specified, Hill said — was slated to come from the Veyo Culinary Water Association.

The water association has water rights to nearly 300 acre feet of water, Hill said. However, based on a 2018 review of water use, the association was shown to be using up to 445 acre feet.

The over-allocation of water puts the water association in violation of state law as it doesn’t have rights to the extra 145 acre feet, he said.

Map showing distance between Veyo and Brookside, Washington County, Utah, Oct. 31, 2018 | Image courtesy of Google Earth, St. George News

Giving out more water than the association currently has rights to will negatively impact those who get their water from that system, Hill said.

The planning commission was aware of this, Hill said, adding that county code doesn’t allow them to approve a project that is in violation of county or state law and tied that to the permit allowed for the RV park.

“The one common theme here is in respect to water rights, which is a scarcity in the community,” Hill said.

“The planning commission erred” in the conditional use permit approval, he said.

Slade Hughes didn’t speak to the County Commission Monday, but was instead represented by attorney Heath Snow.

On the issue of incomplete plans, Snow said the detail of plans those appealing the RV park are asking for aren’t required in order to request a conditional use permit. The more detailed plans, he said, which will show proposed locations of fencing, signage and lighting for example, are presented to the planning commission as the project progresses and usually not before.

“It would be inappropriate for the county to want a developed water or electrical plan at the conditional use phase,” Snow said.

As for the water issue, Snow said it was something beyond the scope of the planning commission or County Commission’s ability to consider at the time. They were there to determine if the planning commission erred in its approval of the conditional use permit based on the county’s requirements, and not how the Veyo Culinary Water Association allocated its water.

Residents of the Brookside-Veyo area attended a meeting of the Washington County Commission focused on an appeal a conditional use permit issued by the county planning commission for a proposed RV park in the Veyo area, St. George, Utah, April 15, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The Commission is asking to be confused,” Snow said. “They say if the water association gives water to the (RV park), then it harms them. That’s the association’s problem, not the proposed facility’s.”

Snow also said the water association has access to unused water connections, as well as options to buy more water from the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

“If they’ve over-allocated their water, then it becomes a valid concern,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “There’s no easy fix to this.”

Along with Iverson, Gil Almquist was the only other county commissioner present as Dean Cox had recused himself from participating in Monday’s appeal hearing.

The County Commission did not vote on the proposed RV park permit appeal Monday, and will instead study it out more over the next two or three weeks before upholding the planning commission’s decision or overturning it.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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